There are a whole bunch of reasons why you might find yourself in an airport overnight. You might be planning ahead for a sadistically early flight or you might be trapped during a layover or delay. Whatever the reason, you’re going to need to get some sleep.

So, here are some awesome nap hacks to get you through such a — let’s admit it — hellish experience. It’s not going to be fun. OR IS IT?

Be Prepared

When it comes to air travel, it always pays to be prepared. Traveling with a variety of essentials will increase the odds that you are able to enjoy a safe and comfortable sleeping experience if you get stuck at the airport overnight. Good choices to keep in your carry-on bag include earplugs, eyeshades, a neck pillow and blanket, an alarm, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer. Having all of these airport nap hacks with you at all times will support your endeavors to catch up on those zzzz’s.

Being prepared is particularly important if you know that there is a good chance that you may end up sleeping at the airport. You have nobody to blame but yourself if you are traveling during adverse weather conditions and you end up getting caught off guard. In addition, if you suspect a large number of flight cancellations forthcoming, you are going to want to stake out your sleeping spot early.

Find a Comfy Spot

We have to state the obvious — find a good napping nook. First stop, check out the seats. Is there a long row of empty benches you can spread out on? A big, smushy chair you can curl up in? Jump on that.

If the airport you’re in only has those awful, plastic, bucket seats — Genève Aéroport in Switzerland is notorious for these — check out the lounge. Typically reserved for the fancier folks, budget travelers can get in on this action too. You may be able to buy a single day pass for as little as $20, and we guarantee you’ll have some cushy furniture to snuggle on.

If you don’t have access to the lounge, ask an airport official if they have cots available for overnight sleepers. Some do! Ask and you may receive.

Figure the Security Situation Before You Snooze

When you slip into a deep sleep, you want to be sure that you have picked a secure spot. Before you decide where to park for a few hours, be sure to scout out potential spots and make your choice with safety in mind. You will sleep more soundly if you find a place that is within the clear view of airport staff. Or find a spot with a security camera overhead.

Picking a spot near other sleeping travelers will also boost your security. While you may be tempted to scope out a space that is deserted and quiet, it is important to remember that there is safety in numbers. If you are unsure where you should sleep, do not be shy about asking airport staff for their recommendations. They will be able to direct you to the most secure locations, giving you peace of mind as you close your eyes and drift off to sleep. The experts will also be an invaluable source of airport nap hacks.

RELATED: Love Your Layover: A Survival Guide on What to Do Between Flights

Travel Light and Maintain Contact with ALL of Your Belongings

The best decision is to simply minimize the amount of luggage that you keep with you. It is also a good idea to not hop on cheap round trip flights with irreplaceable valuables if you know that there is a good chance you may end up sleeping at the airport. If you have your valuables in your luggage, be sure to keep everything out of view of potential thieves.

This one’s especially important if you’re traveling alone. Snuggle into that big chair you found, but keep your luggage nearby. You don’t want to wake up to find your wallet’s been stolen. Or worse, wake up to the TSA inspecting your abandoned, suspicious suitcase.

The ideal situation is to find a place at the airport where you can lock your luggage up overnight. If this is not allowed at your site, you are going to need to take extra steps to guard your belongings as you sleep.

Positioning yourself so that you are sleeping on top of your belongings will detract thieves. If you have a bag, use it as a pillow, or wrap the straps around your arms or legs. If you’ve got something clunkier, like a suitcase, lay it under your feet with the zippers face-down against the floor. Some travelers will even take the extra step of chaining their luggage to their bodies. Whatever you decide, largely depends on how deeply you sleep.

Keep Track of the Time

It would really defeat the purpose of sleeping in the airport if you — ya know — overslept and missed that flight. So! Make sure you set an alarm on your phone or watch to wake you up when it’s time. Or, for a more fun and social alarm system, take a pad of Post-It notes, write, “Wake me up at…” whatever time you need to get up, and stick a whole bunch of them all over your body and luggage.

People will wake. You. Up. This legitimately works. And maybe you’ll make some new friends!

Be Ready to Freshen Up When You Wake Up

Figuring out how you are going to freshen up when you wake up will ensure that you are feeling and looking your best when you board your next flight. You do not want to wait until you wake up and have to scramble to find the necessary toiletries and other items that you need to put yourself together after your slumber.

If you are lucky enough to be traveling through a major airport, you may find pay-per-use lounges or gyms that also feature showers. However, you need to be prepared to freshen up in just a standard bathroom. Before you head out on your travels, stock your bag with essentials such a comb or brush, dry shampoo, face cleansing wipes, cosmetics, a clean change of clothes, and a travel toothbrush and toothpaste. You will feel so much better after you spend a little time freshening up before you continue your travels.

Embrace the Beauty of Airport Sleeping

Ok, so maybe getting stuck in an airport overnight is pretty lame. But! Embrace your inner nomad. You don’t need fancy sheets and posh hotel rooms—you just need yourself and your bag, venturing out into the great unknown.

And, if all else fails, you’re totally miserable, and can’t possible catch any shut-eye while trying to huddle in a plastic bucket seat (sorry, Geneva), you can always make a viral video like this guy did.

What airport nap hacks work for you? Blow it up in the comments!

One Response

  1. Rachel Hill

    I enjoyed flying with chealoair. The fly is really relaxing.


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About The Author

Hannah Winsten is a freelance writer and marketing consultant living in New York City. A total travel junkie, Hannah came to CheapOair as a French translator and SEM associate after returning from a stint living abroad in Paris. She’s also working on her first book--you know you want to read it. Find her on Twitter at @HannahRWinsten.